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New Restrictions on Abortion in Russia a Small Step in the Right Direction

Contact: Don Feder, Communications Director, 508-405-1337, dfeder@rcn.com; Judy Hodge, 815-964-5819, media@worldcongress.org; both World Congress of Families

ROCKFORD, Ill., Oct. 21, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- World Congress of Families Managing Director Larry Jacobs called Russia's new abortion restrictions "a modest step in the right direction -- but a positive development nonetheless."

Responding to Russia's well-below-replacement birthrate (1.4 children per woman, versus 2.1 to replace current population), as well as the reality that the average Russian woman has six abortions in her lifetime, today, the Russian Parliament (Duma) passed a law limiting abortions to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  However, the limit may be raised to 22 weeks in cases where economic hardship is claimed.

The Russian Orthodox Church wanted more stringent restrictions, including spousal consent, parental consent for minors and the right of physicians to refuse to perform abortions.

Jacobs commented: "Russia is facing a severe demographic crisis. The nation is losing 700,000 people a year. Its current population of 143 million could decline to 112 million by the year 2050.  While the new legislation is to be applauded, much, much more needs to be done if Russia is to have a future."

The World Congress of Families sponsored the first international conference dealing with the worldwide decline of birthrates -- "The Moscow Demographic Summit: Family and the Future of Humankind" -- at the Russian State Social University, June 29-30.

More than 500 participated, including demographers, economists, ethicists, researchers, scholars, leaders and activists from every corner of the world.  It was blessed by Patriarch Kirill and welcomed by the Russian Duma.

Speakers included: Dr. Allan Carlson (World Congress of Families International Secretary), Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin (delivering a message from Patriarch Kirill), Dr. Visily Zhukov, (Rector, Russian State Social University), Dr. Alan Keyes (former Asst. Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO), Anna Zaborska (member EU Parliament, former Chairwoman of the EU Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality), Miklós Soltész, (Hungarian Minister of Social, Family and Youth Affairs), Natalya Yakunina (President of the Sanctity of Motherhood Program), Francisco Tatad (former majority leader of the Philippine Senate), Evgeny Yuriev (Advisor to Russian President Medvedev).and Alexey Komov (Summit organizer and World Congress of Families Representative in Moscow and the CIS).

Abortions in Russia, Demographic Winter and the natural family were also recent topics at the Rhodes Forum.  Along with Mrs. Yakunina (Vladimir Yakunin's wife), Jacobs was co-moderator of a roundtable discussion on "Maintaining Family Values in the 21st Century," as part of the 9th Annual Session of the Rhodes Forum of the World Public Forum's Dialogue of Civilizations held on the Isle of Rhodes, Greece, October 7-10.  Participants overwhelmingly affirmed the right to life as a basic human right and highlighted the demographic crisis facing Russia and Europe.  Go online to www.profam.org/press/wcf.pr.111008.htm to see the full press release on the Family Roundtable at the World Public Forum's Dialogue of Civilizations.

Jacobs observed: "Support for the right to life, from conception to natural death, and concern over plummeting birthrates, have been part of the WCF natural-family agenda since our inception in the mid-1990s.  Both issues will receive special attention at World Congress of Families VI (Madrid, May 25-27, 2012) and World Congress of Families VII (Sydney, Australia, May 15-18, 2013)."

For information on World Congress of Families go to www.worldcongress.org.  To schedule an interview with Jacobs, contact Communications Director Don Feder at 508-405-1337, dfeder@rcn.com or Judy Hodge 815-964-5819, media@worldcongress.org.

The World Congress of Families (WCF) is an international network of pro-family organizations, scholars, leaders and inter-faith people of goodwill from more than 80  countries that seek to restore the natural family as the fundamental social unit and the 'seedbed' of civil society (as found in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).  The WCF was founded in 1997 by Allan Carlson and is a project of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Illinois.  To date, there have been five World Congresses of Families -- Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), Warsaw, Poland (2007) and Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2009). 

World Congress of Families VI will be held in Madrid, Spain in May 25-27, 2012.